Saturday, November 3, 2007

Nouwen Part 9

Post #9 on "In the Name of Jesus" leads us in to the 3rd and final section of the book, titled, From Leading to Being Led. The first chapter in the section deals with another of Jesus' temptations and is titled, The Temptation: To Be Powerful. Here are some of Nouwen's thoughts.
  • You all know what the third temptation of Jesus was. It was the temptation of power. "I will give you the all the kingdoms of this world in their splendor" the demon said to Jesus (Matthew 4:9)
  • One of the greatest ironies of the history of Christianity is that its leaders constantly gave in to the temptation of power
  • the temptation to consider power an apt instrument for the proclamation of the gospel is the greatest of all
  • we keep hearing from others, as well as saying to ourselves that having power -- provided it is used in the service of God and your fellow human beings -- is a good thing. With this rationalization Crusades took place; inquisitions were organized; Indians were enslaved; positions of great influence were desired; episcopal palaces, splendid cathedrals, and opulent seminaries were built; and much moral manipulation of conscience was engaged in.
  • power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love
  • ever since the day the snake said, "the day you eat of this tree your eyes will be open and you w ill be like gods, knowing good from evil" (Genesis 3:5) we have been tempted to replace love with power
  • it seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than love people, easier to own life than to love life.
  • the temptation of power is greatest when intimacy is a threat.
  • Many Christian empire builders have been people unable to give and receive love.

The offer of power is hard to resist. When we follow the direction of the world to look our for #1 and strive to be the best it is an easy path to follow. That is why it is essential and imperative that we make the daily decision to set our own agendas aside and pick up our cross to carry it. It is not the natural thing to do. Power, control, and the establishment of and earthly kingdom are in opposition to what we are called to do. Humility and service are our calls. Much of the destructive behavior and disputes within the Body can be traced Io the chase for power. It is when we chase after this false god that the enemy finds us vulnerable. Much of our attitude toward power can be summed up by asking if we choose SERVICE or SERVE US. Which will it be?

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